We are changing the way Direct Contracts work on Upwork.

You will still be able to create Direct Contracts and send contract proposals to clients who aren't on Upwork yet, but with the following changes:

  • Existing contracts will automatically close on April 22, 2024. If you want to continue working with your DIrect Contracts client, you will need to start a new contract. Rates on existing contracts will remain the same until they close
  • You’ll pay a 5% freelancer service fee on the earnings you make on these contracts. This is lower than our standard freelancer service fee of 10%, and we’ve eliminated the 3.4% payment processing fee. This means the only fee you will pay is a 5% freelancer service fee on your earnings
  • The clients you invite will also be asked to create an Upwork account. This will allow you to access these contracts alongside your regular Marketplace contracts. Clients will also pay our contract initiation fee and marketplace fee, in addition to the project’s cost

Learn more about how a new Direct Contract will work below.

At Upwork, we want to help you grow your business every way you can. With Direct Contracts, you can easily propose hourly and fixed-price contracts to non-Upwork clients. This gives you access to features such as escrow services, dispute assistance, and simplified contract management. We manage the back-end so you can focus on creating something amazing with your clients.


Follow the steps below to create a Direct Contract, start working, and get paid:

Create a Contract

As a freelancer, you can send Direct Contracts to clients outside of Upwork. First, you'll create a contract with your own personal terms.

1. Find the paper airplane icon

The icon is in the upper right-hand corner on your screen, and will take you to the Direct Contracts page. From here, you can create and send contract offers and view your pending Direct Contract contracts.


2. Choose Create a Contract and add the details

Get started by entering the key details for your project. You'll add your client’s email address, the contract name, and a short description.

3. Choose between a fixed-price or hourly contract and enter amounts


  1. Enter your hourly rate. We’ll calculate what you’ll receive after fees.
  2. Set your weekly limit. This is the amount of hours you and your client expect you to work weekly on this project. It doesn’t need to be exact but, if you go over, the client will need to manually approve the hours. If you’re not sure, we suggest discussing the estimate with your client.
  3. Your weekly limit determines how much the client must deposit before getting started. Hourly contracts require an initial deposit by your client into escrow to ensure Upwork Payment Protection.


  1. Enter the amount for the deliverable you’re going to provide. We’ll automatically calculate what you’ll receive after fees.
  2. If your project has many steps, you can choose to add milestones. Milestones break big projects down into smaller parts for easier management.


You can add milestones for Direct Contracts. Milestones are individually funded, and your client will only be able to fund one milestone at a time. After you complete a milestone, then your client can fund the next one. The minimum per milestone is $5.

Set the amount of the direct contract

4. Review your contract

Checking the details before sending your new contract to the client helps ensure you get things off to a great start.

5. Send it off

Congratulations! We’ll send you a confirmation that your contract was sent.

Remember to wait for your client to accept and fund the contract before you start work.

Direct contract sent

Manage your Direct Contracts

To see your pending Direct Contracts invitations, choose the Direct Contracts icon in your navigation bar.


Once your client has accepted your contract, you’ll see it in your All Contracts page with all your other Marketplace contracts. From there, you’ll manage it the same way you do any other Marketplace contract.

The only difference in how you manage the contract is that if it closes, and you and your client want to work together again, you’ll need to initiate the new contract through the Direct Contracts page to continue to receive reduced freelancer service fees.

Learn more about the Direct Contracts experience for clients here.

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